HIV is a virus that attacks the cells of the immune system. When a person becomes infected with HIV, their body has a harder time fighting off illness and disease, thus leading to severe health complications if left untreated.
HOW IS HIV TRANSMITTED?
HIV can be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person, mainly through anal or vaginal sex,sharing needles or syringes, pregnancy/childbirth, or breastfeeding. In rare cases, HIV can be spread through oral sex, blood transfusions, or contact with broken skin/wounds.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR HIV?
Because HIV is most commonly spread through sexual contact or needle/syringe use, anyone who engages in unprotected sex, is an injection-drug user, or currently has a partner who is HIV-positive, is at risk for HIV.
HIV disproportionately affects the US population, meaning that some groups of people are placed at higher risk for HIV than others. Specifically, gay and bisexual men, African Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos are most affected by the disease.
How is HIV Prevented?
Because there is no cure, efforts should be made at the prevention of HIV. Abstinence is the only prevention method that is 100% effective, however, if you are engaging in sexual activities, condoms offer the best protection for HIV and sexually-transmitted diseases. If you do not use condoms correctly or consistently, HIV PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a medication that can be taken daily as a way to protect yourself from HIV.